USDA Grants Available for Meat Processors (& Producers)
First off, all federal grants require you to first register in the System for Award Management (SAM), then register with Grants.gov. This process can take up to 4 weeks, so keep that in mind for proposal due dates.
You do not need to hire a grantwriter to submit a winning proposal, but it could help. Understand that skilled grantwriters often have a lot of clients with similar deadlines. Start looking for one well ahead of time if you plan to apply. They generally will need to budget around 40-80 hours to complete your proposal, depending on how much information you can provide them for the application. This could cost you anywhere between $4-10K, depending on the size and scope of your proposal. The more you can dedicate towards writing your proposal, the less time and cost you will need from your grantwriting consultant. Try to give yourselves 6-8 weeks to put together your proposal and do not wait until the last minute. Here is a list of grant writers, business planners, & other consultants that the Flower Hill Institute put together. Please note it is not an endorsement of any specific consultant. You will have to use due diligence to find a qualified consultant to work with you at a price you can afford.
If you need letters of support for your proposal, ask your partner/supporters well ahead of time for that letter. Even better, put together a draft letter for them to use and sign, that way there is less work for them to do. Letters of support go a long way to establish the need for your project and helps to score extra points.
If a grant program offers instructional webinars beforehand that dive deeper into the nuts and bolts of a program and how to apply, it is worth your time to attend them or watch the replay.
Technical Assistance Support:
Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity Technical Assistance Program (MPPTA): As part of Biden-Harris Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has established cooperative agreements with three non-profit organizations to coordinate and provide technical assistance utilizing a wide range of expertise and outreach strategies. These organizations will also establish a national network of support for meat and poultry grant applicants to navigate the application process, and to assist grant recipients throughout their project. The Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network (NMPAN) is one of those organizations.
We are offering technical assistance via one-on-one phone calls with a suite of expert consultants that we have assembled for this project. You can book a free 30-60 minute phone call with one of them, and receive some follow up by email if necessary. If you are thinking of applying for a federal grant, have already received one, or are just wanting a sounding board about some big decisions you want to make, feel free to book a call with 1 or more of these industry experts.
The consultants, and their expertise, are as follows:
Grant-writing advice and how to put together a winning proposal. Also how to manage, report, and invoice for a grant you have received (implementation phase):
Alex Freeman & Brooke Miller of Agriculture Grant Solutions
Abbe Turner, consultant
Facility planning (feasibility studies, business planning, facility considerations:
Keith DeHaan & Samantha Egolf of Food & Livestock Planning
Supply chain development (aggregation, securing supply, selling the whole animal, finding buyers, pricing, etc):
Kathryn Quanbeck, consultant
Operations, equipment, food safety, human resources, & steps to come under inspection:
Chris Fuller, Fuller Consulting
Tracy Smaciarz, consultant
Arion Thiboumery, consultant
Dr. Joe M. Regenstein, professor at Cornell University
Spanish language support/Ayuda en español, as well as food safety and processing equipment questions:
Francisco Najar-Villareal PhD., Ultrasource
USDA Grants/Loans currently open:
Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program
The Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program is a part of USDA’s Build Back Better initiative to strengthen critical supply chains and our food system. With a total of $1.4 billion available, this program guarantees loans of up to $40 million for qualified lenders to finance food systems projects, specifically for the start-up or expansion of activities in the middle of the food supply chain. 19 percent of funds available under the program are set aside exclusively for meat and poultry processors until June 7, 2022, at which point other types of projects may compete for such funds as well. Applications accepted year-round. Talk to your normal agricultural/rural lender to see if they offer this program.
Rural Energy for America Program
Rural Energy for America (REAP) program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Agricultural producers may also apply for new energy efficient equipment and new system loans for agricultural production and processing. Applications are being considered each quarter of the year. Apply through your state USDA Rural Development office.
Funds may be used for the purchase and installation of renewable energy systems, such as:
- Biomass (for example: biodiesel and ethanol, anaerobic digesters, and solid fuels).
- Geothermal for electric generation or direct use.
- Hydropower below 30 megawatts.
- Small and large wind generation.
- Small and large solar generation.
- Ocean (tidal, current, thermal) generation.
Funds may also be used for the purchase, installation and construction of energy efficiency improvements, such as:
- High efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC).
- Cooling or refrigeration units.
- Doors and windows.
- Electric, solar or gravity pumps for sprinkler pivots.
- Switching from a diesel to electric irrigation motor.
- Replacement of energy-inefficient equipment.
Local Foods Promotion Program
The Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) funds projects that develop, coordinate and expand local and regional food business enterprises that engage as intermediaries in indirect producer to consumer marketing to help increase access to and availability of locally and regionally produced agricultural products. Grants can be used for the planning stages of establishing or expanding a local and regional food business enterprise or to improve or expand a food business that supports locally and regionally produced agricultural products and food system infrastructure by performing feasibility studies, market research, training and technical assistance for the business enterprise and/or for producers working with the business enterprise. A 25% match is required.
Eligible entities may apply if they support local and regional food business enterprises that process, distribute, aggregate, or store locally or regionally produced food products. Due date is May 2, 2023.
Value-Added Producer Grants
The Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program helps agricultural producers enter value-added activities to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income. Meat processors can apply as long as at least 51% of what you process is from your own livestock/poultry.
You may receive priority if you are:
- Beginning farmer or rancher.
- Socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher.
- Small or medium-sized farm.
- Ranch structured as a family farm.
- Farmer or rancher cooperative.
- Proposing a mid-tier value chain.
Applications are due May 11th, 2023 electronically or May 16th by paper.
Indigenous Animals Harvesting and Meat Processing Grant (IAG) Program
The Indigenous Animals Harvesting and Meat Processing Grant (IAG) Program will provide up to $50 million to improve tribal nations’ food and agricultural supply chain resiliency by developing and expanding value-added infrastructure related to meat from indigenous animals like bison, reindeer or salmon. The program will fund projects that focus on expanding local capacity for the harvesting, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling or distribution of indigenous meats.
Who is eligible?
- Tribal Governments of Indian tribes as defined by the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994 (Pub. L. No. 103-454), their wholly owned arms and instrumentalities, or joint or multi tribal government entities are eligible to apply.
- Processing businesses owned by non-tribal-governmental entities, including individual tribal members, are not eligible for funding under this program.
More information about Indigenous Animals Grants is available at http://www.usda.gov/iag. Applications will be accepted through July 19, 2023.
Local Meat Capacity Grant (Local MCap)
The Local Meat Capacity Grant (Local MCap) program will provide up to $75 million in grants to fund innovative projects designed to build resilience in the meat and poultry supply chain by providing producers with more local processing options and strengthening their market potential. This grant program is targeted to support meat and poultry processors with smaller-scale projects, with a goal to increase processing availability and variety for local and regional livestock producers.
Who is eligible?
- Eligible applicants for Local MCap grants include business entities (regardless of legal structure) engaged in meat and poultry processing, including rendering animal carcasses or byproducts. Eligible entities include Tribes and Tribal Entities, for-profit entities, non-profit entities, and State or local government entities.
- Private entities must be independently owned and operated, and all applicants must be domestically owned. Additionally, applicants’ facilities must be physically located within the 50 States of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
More information about the Local Meat Capacity Grant program is available at https://www.ams.usda.gov/